Recently, actress and author Lena Dunham along with Jenni Konner launched LENNY a website as part of Hearst Digital Media. The online format promises, from their tagline, Feminism, style, health, politics, friendship, and everything else. Each article is accompanied with a colorful portrait illustration —tasteful caricatures— by various female illustrators. While reading an article published this past Friday, (The Lenny Questionnaire: Elizabeth Moss, Dec 4, 2015), I was taken with the openness and simplicity of the questions posed to actress Elisabeth Moss. They aren’t about her career, her personal or romantic life (for the most part), they delve into and expose something else; the actress as a person, a woman. The uncomplicated humanity of the dialogue got me thinking, what if I were to appropriate parts of the interview but where Moss answered, insert my own responses? In doing so, the dialogue and the questions become part of a broader exchange and one that extends to all women. When people in the media are looked at for being one dimensional, it’s a treat for those to realize (or be reminded) that we are all human and every once in a while, the playing field is even.
Appropriated Lenny: What’s your first memory of your mother?
Elisabeth Moss: Katy Diamond Hamer: It’s hard to say. Sometimes it seems that memories can overlap with the visual documentation that remains in photographs. I remember places quite well and have distinct yet foggy recollections of the first apartment we lived in and also the first house before we moved in with my maternal grandmother. I think my earliest memory might be sitting on her lap in a wooden rocking chair, wrapped in my favorite, pastel yellow blanket. I was probably 2 years old.
AL: Which of your body parts do you feel the most affection for?
EM: KDH: I like my blue eyes. Just the other day I was thinking about things we cannot change, and eye color and skin color were first to come to mind. I then quickly realized that it is possible to get colored contacts but I’ve never seen any that look authentic. At the end of the day, we are left with our own reflections and can work on what we have, but also be grateful for what we’ve been given. I also like my hands, not too masculine or too feminine and in proportion with my small frame.
AL: When did you overcome the patriarchy this week?
EM: KDH: Since patriarchy is such a broad umbrella term under which we all exist, I think that we haven’t fully ‘overcome’ yet. However, there are simple things that women can do on a daily basis to become part of a larger conversation. In a way, I think every time I write something for ETTD, and take the bull by the horns, that I am having a teeny success for women. We have the power to make our own platforms and the Internet has helped facilitate this.
AL: What music was playing during your first kiss?
EM: KDH: My first kiss was a little late (ahem) and during a game of truth or dare. I ended up kissing a boy I had just met in a dark closet. There might have been music at the party (most likely 90s grunge) but I don’t have any memory of it.
AL: What snack can return you to sanity?
EM: KDH: One of my favorite on-the-go snacks is daifuku (red bean mochi). I love the chewy texture and the red bean filling, it is a perfect mix of sweetness with a splash of protein.
AL: What is your power outfit? (What you need to wear when you want to feel “fucking rad/like a business bitch.”)
EM: KDH: Black, always black. I’d say a go to outfit of mine is black jeans (really loving a pair of high-waisted skinny jeans from Courtshop), a long sleeve top by T by Alexander Wang, vintage pearls, a silk DVF blazer and a pair of kitten heels.
AL: What book have you reread the most?
EM: KDH: Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve fully reread any book. Lately, I’m much more likely to read magazines and I love reading something from cover to cover. On a recent flight from West Palm Beach to New York, I picked up Entrepreneur Magazine for the first time and found the articles really inspiring and easy to digest. As a child, I devoured fantasy and mystery literature but as an adult I find that I can only read chapters at a time, so I’m much slower.
AL: What was the worst choice you made before turning 21?
EM: KDH: I always felt a lot of unnecessary guilt as a child. In retrospect I see that it was completely unfounded and brought on by an attempt at reaching what we now know is unattainable; perfection. I wouldn’t say this was the ‘worst’ choice, but I always regretted not kissing a boy named Andy who I had a crush on. He moved away and I never saw him again. I was incredibly shy.
AL: What was the worst choice you made after turning 21?
[The below is a direct quote from Elisabeth Moss, well, because I love her answer. ~KDH]
EM: Okay, at the risk of sounding cheesy, I just don’t really believe in mistakes and worst choices. Everything I have done and not done has made me who I am. I could say a couple things that maybe would have made my life easier and saved some heartbreak, but … I learned so much and now won’t make those mistakes/choices again. Although I do remember talking to Gayle King once about a horrible breakup and repeating that line: “But I guess I learned a lot.” And she said, “Honey, sometimes we don’t need to learn THAT much.” I will never forget that. She was so right and hilarious.
AL: What’s the most embarrassing item in your search history?
EM: KDH: I just deleted all of my search history the other day. Every once in a while, I do this to clean out the memory and hope it will help the browser to be faster. (Maybe?). I mostly use my computer for work purposes so the majority of the history is related to contemporary art; artists, museums and galleries. I recently searched the Art Basel Miami Beach stabbing incident which is both disturbing and silly. Occasionally, I can get sucked into Kardashian drama.
AL: When was the last time you cried?
EM: KDH: This past Friday! My moods have really been on a rollercoaster lately and sometimes depression can take over. While things for the most part are going well —I have friends, family, health— freelance writing can be very stressful with people owing me money, not wanting to pay, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to continue. Luckily these spells haven’t lasted too long and I’m able to recharge and trudge forward.
AL: What’s your favorite curse word?
EM: KDH: Motherfucker.
AL: What superstition do you believe in?
[Another direct quote from Elisabeth Moss because I do the same thing, so if you see me knocking, you now know why.~KDH]
EM: Weirdly, I always knock on wood. But I have substituted knocking on my head if wood isn’t available. Because apparently I believe in this superstition but also am brazen enough to think I can change the rules of it.
Elisabeth Moss is most known for her role as Peggy Olson in AMC’s Mad Men. She also plays a detective in the New Zealand based tv series Top of the Lake. Both series are available for streaming on Netflix. Moss is also working on four films at the moment all scheduled to be in the theaters in 2016.
Jenni Konner is the producer and one of the writers of Girls. She is a mother and also one of Lena Dunham’s best friends. “You know what my job is? I’m Mrs. Garrett from Facts of Life,” Konner says in the 2013 Vulture article by Denise Martin (The Grown-up Behind Girls: Showrunner Jenni Konner, Jan 17, 2013).
For more on LENNY please visit: www.lennyletter.com
Katy Diamond Hamer is the founding editor of Eyes Towards the Dove and frequent contributor to many other magazines. She is based in Brooklyn and doesn’t mind being called a feminist.